The 1990s were known as the last hurrah of the 20th-century, featuring relatively peaceful prosperity. The Cold War had ended, the Berlin Wall had fallen and Bill Clinton, the first baby boomer to live in the White House, was President of the United States.
Following three consecutive years of record-breaking profits after the Hoechst-Celanese merger, the company reorganized into five major business groups, including Advanced Materials, Advanced Technology, Chemicals, Fibers and Film and Life Sciences.
The Advanced Materials division was comprised of engineering plastics. Through the Advanced Technology group, the company conducted research and development of specialty products, exploration of new business development activities and execution of major technical efforts. The Chemicals division included specialty and commodity chemicals, its Fibers and Film division and its Life Sciences division, which focused on pharmaceuticals, animal health and agricultural crop protection businesses.
In 1993, Hoechst Celanese acquired Copley Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Canton, Massachusetts-based manufacturer of generic and over-the-counter drugs with $52 million in 1992 sales and $12.3 million in earnings.
The Wall Street Journal remarked, “The transaction brings together two unremarkable drug companies struggling to cope in an industry roiled by the specter of health-care reform and the emergence of powerful managed-care buyers.”
Analysts wondered at the logic of the $526 million offer, 20 times the annual sales of Copley Pharmaceuticals, but with Copley’s 23 approvals for new products and a portfolio of roughly 90 generic, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, the addition made Hoechst Celanese a force to reckon with in the pharmaceutical industry.
By the mid-1990s, Hoechst Celanese pharmaceuticals division (Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) was making plans to spin off from Hoechst A.G. and form a separate, publicly held company as early as 1996. The goal was to increase the company’s presence in the U.S. generic and OTC drug market and to increase sales in healthcare to $1.5 billion by the end of the decade.
In the U.S., New York’s World Trade Center was bombed, killing six people and injuring more than 1000. And in 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa following a 27-year imprisonment for his involvement in the Apartheid resistance.
As a result of the strategic realignment of Hoechst A.G., the various businesses were transferred to independent companies. The global basic chemical, cellulose acetate, phosphorous and chlorine businesses became part of Celanese. The independent company, Ticona – industry leader in the field of polyacetals – ran the technical polymers business. And in May of 1997, the Annual General Meeting approved the realignment of the group. On July 1, Hoechst AG became a Strategic Management Holding company.
In 1997, the Mars Pathfinder (with airbags made from Vectran LCP fiber produced by Ticona) sent back its first color panoramic images of Mars. The Hale-Bopp comet became visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, and Britain’s beloved Princess Diana was killed in an auto crash in Paris.
In the U.S., Hoechst announced plans to demerge most of its chemical activities to the new Celanese A.G. in 1998. On December 1, Hoechst and Rhône-Poulenc S.A. announced their plans to merge their life science businesses into the new company, Aventis S.A. Then in July, Hoechst A.G. shareholders approved the demerger of Celanese A.G. into an independent company.
In October of 1998, Celanese announced plans to invest $300 million to build an integrated acetyls complex on Jurong Island, Singapore, adjacent to a vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant owned by Celanese.
In Europe, the European Union (EU) agreed upon a single currency, called the Euro, as a means of securing peace and prosperity across Europe. The idea was simple – when nations trade and share their institutions, they are less likely to go to war.
China launched its first unmanned spacecraft, the Shenzhou, in November 1999. And in the U.S., Colonel Eileen Collins became the first female to head a space shuttle mission.
In 1999, Celanese received gross proceeds of more than €1 billion from the sale of non-core businesses. The company acquired the outstanding 44 percent of Celanese Canada and a 50 percent share in Korea Engineering Plastics.
Then, at an extraordinary General Meeting of Hoechst A.G., shareholders approved the demerger of Celanese A.G. into an independent company. With the demerger, Celanese’s symbol on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (FSE) changed from HAG to CAG.
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